China builds world's largest skatepark
Already known for building one of the biggest skateparks in modern day existence (SMP park in Shanghai), China recently broke ground on what will soon be the biggest skatepark in the world. Located in Guangzhou, the monstrous skatepark's construction site is surrounded by 10 universities, with a combined attendance of more than 160,000 students. The skatepark is part of an extreme sports complex that will also house a BMX park and a climbing wall.
There are massive parks throughout the world, including the 68,000-square-foot Lake Cunningham Regional Skatepark in San Jose, Calif., and the 62,000-square-foot Black Pearl Skatepark in the Cayman Islands. However both of these will be dwarfed by the 182,000-square-foot skatepark currently being built in Southern China.
At more than three times the size of the 52,000-square-foot SMP Skatepark, the Guangzhou project might seem like overkill to some, but not to legendary skateboarder Lance Mountain, who's been designing skateparks almost as long as he's been ripping them. Mountain explained, "I think parks legitimately need to be that big to cover all the bases and all the aspects that skateboarding has, because it's so broad. It's not a football field. It's not a basketball court it's not a tennis court. It's not one thing. There's bowl skating, vertical skating, pool skating, street skating, and course skating."
Builder Brad Shaw has a 35-year history building skateparks and he's been working on plans for the Guangzhou Skatepark for the past six years. Shaw said that his plans include, "a large Combi-type bowl, pool, mini-ramps, plazas, snake-run, banked slalom, full-pipe with a cradle and lots of small beginner areas too." In addition there will be a 1,000-square-foot indoor skatepark.
Although most of the skateboards and skate shoes sold in the world originate in China, the country's skateboarding scene is in its infancy. As professional skater Brandon Biebel, explained, "You never see skaters. There's no skate shops. Skateboarding barely exists out there." Regarding China constructing a four-acre skatepark, Biebel continued, "That doesn't surprise me, everything in China is the best."
Shaw's aspiration is to help grow skateboarding in China, saying, "Hopefully we can design a lot of fun elements in the park. This is a government project and we had to follow certain guidelines. Being China, riders here are new to skateboarding and BMX and the skatepark is for the masses, so we have added a lot of beginners areas for people to get started and to be coached. We are not trying to make the biggest bowl or ramp for they will not get used much. It's really designing something for the local people to use and build the sport and industry."
Mountain concurred with Shaw's intentions, saying, "We've advanced skateboarding to Street League, we've advanced it to the MegaRamp and we've advanced it to giant pools. The reality is that we started skating on little banks and open schoolyards and things that we could spend a lot of time doing nothing. Build where kids can sit on their butts and roll down a hill and play on their skateboards and fall in love with skateboarding, that's what keeps them doing it longer."
The Guangzhou Skatepark is scheduled to open in spring of 2014 and will no doubt be a boost to China's blossoming skate scene.